The majority of Qatari nationals and white-collar and blue-collar expatriates are well aware of the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19), according to a survey carried out by the Social and Economic Survey Research Institute (Sesri), at Qatar University (QU). Sesri, a social scientific survey research initiative of QU, surveyed 2,131 individuals from the three categories between March 12 and 14 about the Covid-19 outbreak.
The survey was based on a nationally representative sample interviewed by telephone in 10 different languages. The respondents comprised 726 Qatari nationals, 750 resident white-collar and 655 blue-collar expatriates aged 18 and older. As many as 97% of Qatari nationals, 94% of white-collar and 87% of blue-collar workers said they have heard or read some or a lot about the Covid-19 outbreak.
Qatari nationals (84%) and white-collar expatriate workers (79%) were more likely to say that they have heard or read a lot about Covid-19 as compared to blue-collar expatriate workers (56%). Television, Twitter, Facebook, and word of mouth are the most frequently mentioned main sources of information about the Covid-19 pandemic. For Qataris, television (31%) and Twitter (18%) are the most mentioned main sources of information, while for white-collar expatriates, television (23%) and Facebook (20%) are the main sources of information. Facebook (31%) and word of mouth (23%) are mentioned the main sources of information about Covid-19 outbreak for blue-collar expatriates. Other sources of information for respondents include other social media platforms, newspapers, and the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH).
The majority of Qatari national and white-collar and blue-collar expatriates are concerned about the negative impacts of Covid-19.
Qatari nationals (62%), white-collar (71%) and blue-collar expatriates (74%) in large numbers said they are either very or somewhat concerned that Covid-19 will have a negative impact on the economy of Qatar. Blue-collar expatriates (46%) are significantly more likely to be very concerned, as compared to white-collar expatriates (36%) and Qatari nationals (28%). Overall, Qataris are least likely to be concerned about the negative impact of Covid-19 on the economy of Qatar.
All respondents were also asked about their level of concern about a possible widespread outbreak of Covid-19 in Qatar. Nearly two-thirds of all respondents reported being somewhat or very concerned (62% for Qataris; 65% for white-collar expatriates; and 68% for blue-collar expatriates). Once again, blue-collar expatriates (40%) were more likely to be very concerned as compared to Qataris (31%) and white-collar workers (33%).
With regard to the respondents’ level of concern about themselves or someone in their family falling sick due to Covid-19, all groups expressed concerns (67% of Qataris, 73% of white-collar expatriates, and 67% of blue-collar expatriates). Overall, Qatari nationals (76%) were more likely to be somewhat or very concerned in comparison to blue-collar expatriates (67%).
In general, women reported higher levels of concern about a possible widespread outbreak of Covid-19 in Qatar, and even more so about the possibility that they or their family members might contract the virus. Similarly, younger respondents were more likely to be concerned about the negative impact of Covid-19 on the economy of Qatar, its widespread outbreak, and the possibility of themselves or their family members contracting the virus.
While blue-collar expatriates said they know less about Covid-19, they expressed more concern about its effects on the economy and about the potential for an outbreak. This suggests that their lack of access/exposure to information may be driving their concern, and that providing more accurate information might reduce their level of worry.
Washing hands regularly and using hand sanitisers are the most mentioned precautionary measures taken by all respondents to protect themselves and their families against Covid-19. While all groups of respondents mentioned washing hands regularly and using hand sanitisers, blue-collar workers were more likely to mention washing hands regularly as a precautionary measure (84%), as compared to white-collar workers (76%) and Qataris (67%). However, blue-collar workers (46%) were least likely to report using hand sanitisers as a precautionary measure (vs 68% for Qataris and 62% for white-collar expatriates). This is, presumably, because they have less access to hand sanitisers.
About half of Qataris (49%) and white-collar expatriates (54%) and slightly less than half blue-collar expatriates (42%) also mentioned avoiding public places such as malls, mosques, and shopping centers. Similarly, 50% of Qataris, 40% of white-collar and 39% of blue-collar expatriates said they avoid public gatherings including majlis, weddings, funerals, and Friday prayers. Interestingly, nearly two-thirds of blue-collar expatriates (66%) said they use protective masks as compared 29% of white-collar expatriates and 13% of Qataris. Blue-collar expatriates, due to the nature of their living and workplace environment, are more likely to interact with crowds of people. Other precautionary measures implemented by the respondents include avoiding handshakes, kissing on the forehead, nose, and cheeks.
Sesri director Prof Hassan al-Sayed said such surveys inform policy and decision-makers about the public’s feedback and helps in mitigating this pandemic.